Chest | Allergy & Immunology | Mononucleosis (Disease)


Infectious mononucleosis (often called mono) is a common viral infection that causes fever, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes. Mononucleosis is most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and it is most frequently diagnosed in teenagers and young adults. Symptoms of mononucleosis include: drowsiness, fever, general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling, loss of appetite, muscle aches or stiffness, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit, swollen spleen, less frequently occurring symptoms include: chest pain, cough, fatigue, headache, hives, jaundice (yellow color to the skin), neck stiffness, nosebleed, rapid heart rate, sensitivity to light, shortness of breath.

Causes and Risk factors

The Epstein-Barr virus causes mononucleosis in more than 90% of cases. This ubiquitous, highly contagious organism is a member of the Herpesviridae family of viruses (other viruses in this family include herpes simplex, varicella-zoster, cytomegalovirus, and human herpes virus 6 & 7). Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can sometimes also cause an illness with the symptoms of mononucleosis. Mononucleosis, or mono, is often spread by saliva and close contact. It is known as the kissing disease, and occurs most often in those age 15 to 17. However, the infection may develop at any age.

Mono is usually linked to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), but can also be caused by other organisms such as cytomegalovirus (CMV). Mono may begin slowly with fatigue, a general ill feeling, headache, and sore throat. The sore throat slowly gets worse. Your tonsils become swollen and develop a whitish-yellow covering. The lymph nodes in the neck are frequently swollen and painful.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Mononucleosis generally resolves without medical help, though it may last from weeks to months. Treatment is aimed at easing the symptoms of the illness, and it can usually be done at home with plenty of rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications. Serious complications only rarely occur.

During a physical examination, the doctor may find swollen lymph nodes in the front and back of your neck, as well as swollen tonsils with a whitish-yellow covering. The doctor might also feel a swollen liver or swollen spleen when pushing on your belly. There may be a skin rash. A monospot test will be positive for infectious mononucleosis. A special test called an antibody titer can help your doctor distinguish a current (acute) EBV infection from one that occurred in the past. ...